Wednesday, December 23, 2009

About the day I had coconut in my hair and horse poo on my flip flops, and planted a garden

December 23, 2009

Yesterday I decided it was time to be productive so after my 2nd cup of cappuccino (recipe at end of story) I set out to make myself a frame to stretch my canvas on out of an old broken table. I borrowed a hammer and a pry bar from my new friends at the trailer park and for the next 2 hours hammered and pried old rusty nails out of the table. The nails were very old didn’t give up without a fight. I only wanted the table top and had to remove the legs and some of the support pieces under the table top which I did manage. When I brought back my borrowed tools I asked around for a stapler and was told that the guy that has a stapler lives just up the road, in the house with the orange fence. When I was asked what I needed it for and I told them I needed to staple a canvas to my newly build frame I was told that the guy was a painter and had all the equipment and tools to build frames...great, now you tell me after I have laboured for a few hours. I had figured out what I wanted to paint but now I was in doubt about the size of my painting and once it’s stretched and stapled there is no turning back, unless of course you want to go smaller but not if you want to go bigger. I decided I’d wait until I could talk to my friend Kathy who is an artist and is the one who gave me lessons last year, there are certain rules about size and I just wanted to make sure that what I had in mind would look ok. So I moved on to my next projects....oh, let me back up a bit, first thing after coffee I went out back to pony lane and gathered some horse poo and spread it out to dry, some of it was still smelly.....did I mention that I am not the weirdest person around here. Anyway, before I left home I had bought some beautiful wool from I bought some chunky Suri alpaca and some lace weight alpaca and silk blend and was making what I call fat skinny scarves. You use a fat yarn and a skinny yarn and just knit in stockinette stitch for 3 rows with the skinny and then 1 row with the fat, you knit it up on circular needles but you don’t join it this is just so that you can knit from both ends. It’s very fast because the needles are a size 10...yup size 10, making it very holey and loopy and fast. I had finished one for a friend of mine and so I decided that today I would block it on my big concrete counter top and it worked great. I had to keep spritzing it with water because it was so hot it dried in minutes. I brought a lot of this yarn with me and plan on making a lot of these as gifts so far I haven’t knitted too much yet but I am starting to get the knitin itch. All the while I am doing all this I am keeping an eye out for my iguanas because I have put their fresh lettuce out and want a picture of them eating but they are too fast for me, they grab a piece of lettuce and when I have my camera in hand they disappear with it. So I decide it’s time for a break and a stake out. I make myself my 10 am fruit drink (recipe at end of story) and sit down with my camera in hand and wait. To anyone passing by it looks like the lazy Canadian is once again..... Well... lazy. They can’t tell that I am busy here, on a stake out. I did get a shot of the medium size one but I really wanted a shot of the monster one but he was too smart for me. I should have been wearing beige camouflage, oh well. I have no idea how many iguanas I have; I know I have about 4 different sizes plus the little geckos. Are geckos just baby iguanas? After my unsuccessful stake out I decide it’s time to plant my plants into the ground, I’ve had a few weeks now to ponder on where they will go and have a nice supply of dried horse poo. I dig up a spot alongside my palapa and mix the poo into the sand and plant my creeping vines there so they will cover the ugly side that has boards and pieces missing. I also find some plants growing behind my bathroom and transplant them into my new garden as well. I also planted a row of dill, just because I still had some dill seeds that a friend gave me...thank-you friend. Did I mention that my cucumbers and dill that I planted a while ago are up and growing...well, they are and I am so excited. (We won’t talk about my grapes that I planted at the same time just yet) There might just be pickles by mid February and I am not sure why this excites me so much because I don’t even really like pickles but it excites me anyway. I did buy a cantaloupe again today and plan on drying the seeds and planting them as well as an avocado if I can ever stop cutting into the pit, seriously, I eat about 4 avocados as day, I think I mentioned that they are only 4 pesos a piece which works out to about .32 cents each...unreal. Fruit and vegetables here are so cheap and fresh and good that I can’t get enough of them. Taking in my 5 -10 servings a day is not hard here, combine that with my flax seed oil and cinnamon & honey and Jamaica tea and my favourite potato meal my immune system should be rock solid, a real fort knox....there is nothing that will survive in my body long enough to do any damage. The only problem is that when I get home I won’t be able to afford to eat like this unless I grow my own which I do intend to try now that I have a greenhouse in my back yard....but I’ll ramble on about that come April.

I decided today I would shred a coconut, I do want to bring fresh real coconut home, I’ve brought it home before when it was cooked but I think I can bring it home uncooked. So after a rather good fight with the coconut I manage to get the coconut out of its shell and I get out my little hand shredder liek the ones I see the local women use. I see them sitting on their front steps in the afternoon slowly shredding coconut, they make it look so effortlessly and peaceful......I am here to tell you it is not effortlessly, oh no. After almost shredding a finger to shreds and having coconut flying everywhere I decide that there has to be a better way, even though the locals have been doing it this way for a hundred years. Then it dawns on me that my blender has a chop setting, I cut my coconut up into small pieces and give it a whirl and dang it, it works like a dangy dang. Now, my coconut does not look at all like the neat and evenly shredded coconut like the locals, mine is all chopped and chunky but once I have it home there will not be anything to compare it too and it will look fine. I put it into an empty yogurt container but this morning in dawns on me that it is still wet from the coconut water and it seems to me it will get mouldy. So I this morning I laid it out on paper in the sun to dry.....not sure if this is the process but I figured I would give it a try but I didn’t have it laid out there very long and the ants discovered it...good grief, I can’t hover over my coconut all day shooing away ants so I covered it with a tea towel, it should still dry, just not as fast.

On Saturday when I was helping paint the church I was invited to a Bible study on Tuesday at 4 pm, on Monday I ran into one of the ladies and was reminded again “don’t forget, Tuesday at 4”. I had been invited to the ladies Bible study last year and did go once but then decided that my Spanish wasn’t good enough for me to get anything out of it and then didn’t go back. I decided (I decided a lot today) that unless I completely submerge myself my Spanish is never going to improve, it certainly won’t improve while I am sitting under my palapa having a stake out so off I went to the Bible study....or so I thought. AS soon as I walked into the church I knew right away something was off, everyone was dressed in their very very best, and I’m talking wedding attire here. Turns out this is their Christmas Concert and I am very under dressed. This is not the first time I have gone to a Mexican event and found my self very underdressed...down right frumpy. Now I did change out of my horse poo collecting/gardening/coconut havesting clothes into a “nicer” clean pair of capris and a clean “nicer” t-shirt but was still no where near to being appropriately dressed. The lady sitting beside me was not wearing a new dress and I am am guessing it was her best dress and I glanced down and saw her shoes were clean, and very blingy high heels, and her toe nails were done up very nicely, I look down at my feet, which I did give a quick wipe but should have scrubbed and scraped a bit and saw my horse poo gathering/gardening/coconut harvesting/iguana chasing flip flops.....oh my goodness. Hopefully being a new comer will buy me some grace here. I vow to myself that when all this holiday hoopla is over and the store have more regular hours again (ha...nothing is regular here) I will go and buy me some bling, and the next time I am invited to a Mexican event I too will be all blinged up. Looking at me sitting in this church pew you would never know that just days ago I finished reading Kathleen Tessaro’s book on Elegance, and I was going to put some of her advise into practise but haven’t had time yet....been busy you know. Anyway....There is more, I suddenly see out of the corner of my eye a women going to the back of the church where the palapa is and she is carrying a pot. There is food! Is there not going to be an end to me feeling inadequate, stupid and cheap? I of course didn’t bring anything and this is a potluck event. I wonder how much grace these people have, tis the season after all of love and acceptance so I should be ok. I do forget all about (almost) my inadequateness’ and enjoy the program, the Christmas Carols we sang were all familiar making it easier to sing in Spanish and I did even get something out of the message. The kids sang a few songs which was just adorable and then the teenagers did a great job of “Angels we have heard on high” and then the food under the palapa, which of course was awesome. We had tamales, ceviche, macaroni salad and atole. (A brief explanation of food at end of story) As I am sitting there eating all of a sudden something falls onto my plate....what the heck, it’s small chunk of coconut, oh my gosh I have coconut in my hair! I shouldn’t be allowed out in public. (ever)

The children were all given a little bag of goodies shortly after the food was served and I must say I was impressed that aside from one little girl who’s mother was not there, not one child opened his/her candy bag, not one. They all hung on to their bags rather tightly but did not open them. Perhaps saving it for tomorrow, or maybe for Christmas day, not sure, but they went home with their bags intact and still tied with the Christmas ribbon. As I say my good byes to everyone and get ready to head home Mrs Cardenas comes up to me and puts a paper bag in my hand and says “something for breakfast tomorrow”. I peek inside, 2 tamales.....I love these people. Once again I go to bed with a very grateful heart.....and imaging my blingy elegant shoes I will gift myself next week.

My fruit drink varies everyday, it depends what I have on hand but it goes something like this;

Always about a ¼ - ½ papaya

Always a banana

Always water from one coconut

Sometimes some watermelon

Sometimes an apple (cored of course)

Sometimes yogurt (almost always)

Sometimes some pineapple

Sometimes some orange juice

Always ½ tsp flax seed oil

Always a tsp ground flax

Always 2 tsp honey & 1 tsp cinnamon (you can Google the benefits of cinnamon & honey)

I drink a litre of this everyday (always)

My Homemade cappuccino

Put one cup coffee into blender and add;

A bit of powered vanilla (liquid vanilla works too)

A bit of honey & cinnamon)*

A bit of thick cream (you decide how creamy you want it, I tend to be very generous with the cream)

And blend for few gets all frothy and yummy smelling, seriously you have no idea how content and happy and thrilled I am in the morning as I am sipping this and watching the sunrise. You could play with different flavouring if you wanted but this is my favourite.

*At home where honey is the price of gold I use brown sugar instead

My favourite potato meal; This is my version of the Mexican crazy potato, I only have a hot plate so I must improvise.

I put water in a pot and throw in a potato, one big carrot (they are huge here) and an egg and boil, when all 3 are done I cut them up and put on a plate, I add some cream and a dab of butter and cut up an avocado, a tomato and ½ a cucumber (they are huge here) and load on top and sprinkle with a bit of salt. It makes for a beautiful plate; it’s red, green, white and orange. It is so healthy with 5 servings of vegetables and some protein in the boiled egg and so easy and fast to make. You could load whatever vegetables you like on it, you could even use some salad dressing instead of cream, I don’t like salad dressing but am very fond of my cream.

Tamales; I have never actually seen them being made so this is just how I think they are made

They come in all flavours; I’ve seen beef, chicken, shrimp, plain corn, and pineapple. From my understanding the inside ingredients whatever they may be are wrapped in corn flour dough forming a cabbage roll like thing and then it is wrapped in a corn husk and tied at each end and then steamed. There is usually some finely chopped vegetables in with the meat and shrimp ones and the inside is quiet juicy and moist. The shrimp ones are always rather spicy which is my favourite, the pineapple ones are too sweet for me, corn ones are great for breakfast. Chicken ones usually have some rice in it as well.


There are 2 kinds, shrimp and fish, both very delicious and I don’t have a preference. The fish or shrimp is cut up into cubes and set in a shallow dish with finely chopped (very fine) carrots (lots of carrots), a little green peppers, onions and celery, jalapeño peppers and some cilantro. It is then covered with lime juice and it sits for anywhere from 4 – 8 hours and the lime cooks or pickles I guess the fish. Then you stir it with a fork and the fish just breaks right up. You eat this on crackers. It reminds me a bit of antipasto but just with more of a fishy taste.


Have never seen this being made but I am hoping that I can get someone to teach me. It’s a hot drink, very filling and warming. It is corn based, corn is pounded (and I will not be fooled into thinking that this is relaxing and peaceful like the shredding of coconut) into a powder and water is added along with cinnamon, and I do believe brown sugar and I am not sure what else. (Sorry but my research isn’t done yet) It is put through a blender and then a sieve and then heated up or maybe it’s heated up first and then blended and sieved, I’m not sure. I would love to learn how to make this, it would be a great drink for up north in the cold, a great substitute for hot chocolate for those weirdo’s that don’t like chocolate. (Me)

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